Understanding Statistics on Prison Capacity

face of a prisoner

Prison capacity statistics require careful study for truthful understanding. For example, the U.K. Prison Minister in 2002 stated that “only 20 per cent of prisoners were currently having to double up in a cell designed for one.” The BBC reported an alternate perspective on that statistic:

The Howard League believes that, although 20 per cent of inmates are “doubling up” in cells designed for one, the Prison Service does not collect data on overcrowding in other types of cells, such as when three inmates have to share facilities designed for two.^

Bleich (1989) insightfully describes difficulties in interpreting measures of overcrowding such as rated capacity.

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